What Is Viniyoga?
'The essence of my father's teaching is this: it is not that the person needs to accommodate him- or herself to yoga, but rather the yoga practice must be tailored to fit each person"
- T.K.V. Desikachar
Viniyoga is an authentic and traditional yoga approach, consisting of adapting the tools of yoga to a unique body mind. Going back in generations to Nathamuni, considered the first of Sri Vaishnava āchāryās, in the 7th Century.
How these teachings came to me?
This lineage comes from Nathamuni, through many generations, to T. Krishnamacharya (1888-1989), then to his son T.K.V. Desikachar and others, such as Indra Devi (Federico & Cristina Enriquez, my first teachers in Mexico, were her disciples) then to Gary Kraftsow, then to my peers and me.
Although I did my training with Gary Kraftsow, I love to learn from other teachers in the same lineage, such as Chase Bossart, and I am guided in my personal practice by my mentor, Mary Hilliker.
Each person is unique
Each person is unique. In Viniyoga, optimally in a One on One setting, the practice is designed for that person, according to their personal needs, possibilities, limitations and interests.
Examples of elements that will vary are:
The choice of tools (postures & movement, breathing approach, chanting, meditation, inquiry, etc.)
The way in which all of the above are done
The sequencing of actions
The moment of day for the practice
The length of the practice
The themes chosen for meditation/inspiration
Awareness of breath and mindfulness are present in every practice, and the movements will be done consciously & gently.
How can this be practiced in a group setting?
The best and the traditional way to practice Viniyoga is in a One on One setting.
That said, I lead groups where the sense of community plays an important part in the healing process.
In a group setting there are cues given by the teacher, and each participant is encouraged and guided to find their own rhythm to breathe and move, adjusting the practice to themselves.
The practices are taught to the people present in the session, considering their experience, limitations, potentials and interests.
Yoga Well Institute Description of Viniyoga
There are different ways to explain what Viniyoga means. I find this one, published in the Yoga Well Institute's website, very clear and accessible:
"In Sanskrit, Viniyoga means “appropriate application”. It is a holistic healing discipline that addresses the entire person (body, breath, mind, behaviors, emotions, & spirit) in an interconnected way. In this tradition, the tools of Yoga: āsana (movement & body position), prāṇāyāma (breathing), mantra, Vedic chanting, meditation, and more are modified to meet the individual needs and capacities of each person.
As such, this discipline offers a broad range of tools for supporting health, promoting healing, and facilitating personal development and transformation." (yogawell.com)